There’s an occasional impishness to cabaret artiste Bradley Storer, who calls himself a “Weimar performer when it’s convenient”. After 10 years of performing (minus that grim peak-COVID period), he felt it appropriate to mark the occasion. Following a time picking over the bones of his past works, the result is Exhumed: the ‘best’ of Bradley Storer.
In opening comments, our vocalist said his ‘best’ bits weren’t that different from his ‘worst’. Considering the tunes reanimated here, surely Storer must be talking of the dark content, as there are no concerns about the quality of the musical offerings.
Through delicacy and power, Storer showed outstanding control of his instrument across a diverse set. His grave-robbing excavations sifted much ground, harking back to Next (Eric Blau / Jacques Brel / Mort Shuman, 1966) – where soldiers’ on leave from their trenches find even a mobile-brothel visit is regimented.
More recent selections allowed Storer to show off an impressive range of notes and characters, such as through murder ballads connected to Nick Cave NOT from the celebrated album. We travelled from an angelic underwater presence (Little Water Song by Bruno Pisek and Cave, first released by Ute Lemper in 2000) to a shadowy, snarling take on The Mercy Seat (Cave/Nick Harvey) recalling the unhinged side of Frank Gorshin’s Riddler from 1960s Batman.
Musical accompaniment gave us a talented pair seen in outings such as Tash York’s Happy Hour – David Butler (keys and musical director) and Reuben Morgan (violin), who each collaborated sensitively with the vocal. They were joined by Cameron Bajraktarevic-Hayward (cello), capable of precise pizzicato control to make ominous rumblings, who contributed to the suitable moodiness of this tight trio.
There may have been some opening-night nerves, with the odd rough mic stand placement creating a “boom” and some overamplification of the musicians. Also, the bookending of the show, where Storer sings from the stalls, isn’t going to be heard well by everyone in the house. We might hope that some thought about these issues will remove some perturbations of the delicate magic being woven on stage.
If you’ve found the media quite depressing of late, songs on death, human cruelty, or indifference might make this a heavy evening. But it would be a shame to miss out on the talent assembled here. So, take a day off from the ghoulish news.
You’ve got until Sunday 8 October to get your grotesqueries from Exhumed – it’s less frightening than Dr Frankenstein’s creation, but still showcases a remarkable, even awesome, body of work.
EXHUMED: The Best of Bradley Storer
The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place (off Lt Collins St), Melbourne
Performance: Monday 2 October 2023
Season continues to 8 October 2023
Information and Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com
Image: Bradley Storer (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte